In 2018, Scotland puts its young people in the spotlight, celebrating their talents, contributions and creating new opportunities for them to shine. As part of Year of Young People, the Edinburgh International Book Festival has been working with a group of ten pupils aged 8-14 from schools in Craigmillar in Edinburgh to co-design a strand of events in the 2018 Book Festival programme exploring the concept of Freedom. The project, mysteriously titled Codename F, covers topics chosen by the young Co-Programmers including gender, religion, women’s rights, the environment and free speech.
The young Co-Programmers are drawn from schools in Craigmillar including Holyrood Secondary School, Castlebrae Community High School, St Francis CE Primary School and Niddrie Mill Primary School. The seven secondary pupils were introduced to the Book Festival by their school librarians, and the three primary pupils through their work with Lyra Theatre.
Codename F is supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund, managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, and the Young Co-Programmers chose the name themselves because “It sounds secret & mysterious and our theme is Freedom.” The group explored a range of topics including the environment, gender politics and surveillance, and has selected nine events in the Festival including one in the Baillie Gifford Schools Programme, featuring authors including Helen Duggan, Christopher Edge, Hayley Barker, Mary Watson, Alexis Deacon, Joe Todd-Stanton and, in a unique collaboration born at the Book Festival, Michael Morpurgo and French graphic novelist Barroux.
They have also designed a day of free, drop-in activities under the banner Freedom to be Heard which challenge perceptions on how children and young adults engage with society; from politics to religion, immigration to environment. Audiences of all ages are encouraged to come and voice their thoughts and debate the issues of the day with the leaders of tomorrow.
In a major initiative, supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund through Creative Scotland, the Book Festival has commissioned 52 authors from 25 countries (including 13 from Scotland) to write essays exploring ideas about freedom. Five of the Freedom Papers have been commissioned by the Year of Young People Co-Programmers and include texts from Paralympian Ade Adepitan, Cat Clarke and the young Jordanian writer Joud Safwan Almobideen. The Freedom Papers will be published in a special supplement to Gutter magazine in July and provide rich material for a series of debates in August.
Janet Smyth, Children’s & Education Programme Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “It’s been great fun working with such an insightful and entertaining group of young people – our discussions have covered a wide range of issues and the events they have selected reflect their concerns and interests. Our thanks go to the schools involved, particularly the Librarians from Holyrood and Castlebrae schools, and our facilitator Pete Lannon from our project partners, Lyra.”
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland said: “We are delighted to be supporting Codename F at the Edinburgh International Book Festival as part of the Year of Young People celebrations. The young programmers have come up with an incredible line up of events and it is great to see genuine co-design and collaboration at work with one of Edinburgh’s major festivals. Events such as this further reinforce Scotland as the perfect stage for events whilst also allowing the next generation to showcase their unique talents and have their voices heard.”
The Year of Young People 2018 is a year-long programme of events and activities that will give young people in Scotland the opportunity to show the world what they are made of. The Book Festival’s Young Co-Programmers are Atika Al-azari, Bruce Banner, India Cierpikowska, Laeticia Danica, Martyna Gorska, Joe Johnson, Ahmed Nalbant, Laurence Philpot, Unmol Singh and Jonathan Watton.